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16th March 2016 / Wendy Jane Preston

Harwin partners with Festo to achieve ‘most ambitious’ Gecko connector assembly machine

Harwin has announced that it has designed and installed its largest ever assembly line, built in partnership with Festo, the leading supplier of automation technology. The line was commissioned to service Harwin’s rapidly growing sales of the Gecko 1.25mm pitch high reliability connector family.

By utilising Festo’s products throughout the machine design, compatibility issues that sometimes arise when using conflicting hardware were removed. Festo delivered a full range of pneumatics, PLCs, drives, motors and electric axis that allowed Harwin to select the best suited technology in each area of the machine. The new assembly line also includes laser marking and it can automatically assemble the full range of Gecko products up to 50 contacts.

Increasing variety

Comments Paul McGuinness, Harwin’s Director of Engineering: “It is our company philosophy to invest in the latest equipment and pursue a drive towards automation. As the Gecko range continues to grow with increasing variants and design options we needed this new machine to be able to handle all latched connector variants. This is the most ambitious machine we have ever produced, using more I/O than ever before – a total of 450 – which is only possible through the combination of the CANopen and Festo systems.”

Other features include: CPDX for operation, recipe selection, alarm monitoring, fault diagnosis, function selection; vacuum sensors for accurate position detection; and CMMP control of the EMMS servo motor, which uses an absolute encoder to negate the need for homing if the machine loses power.

Innovative products and expertise

Adds McGuinness: “Festo assisted us from the initial design through to final commissioning. They are excellent to work with – highly experienced, technically very good and very responsive. Their innovative products and expertise have been invaluable in achieving the high levels of automation that we have realised in this new Gecko assembly line.”

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